WHO Publishes Article on MSH's Successful Model to Increase Family Planning in Afghanistan
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published an article on an MSH project in Afghanistan that was able to significantly increase contraceptive use by working closely with communities and religious leaders.
Afghanistan has the second highest maternal death rate in the world, according to the United Nations, with high fertility and low contraception use being significant factors. “Achieving Success with Family Planning in Rural Afghanistan,” describes how together with the Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health and local nongovernmental organizations, MSH’s Accelerating Contraceptive Use (ACU) project, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, trained community health workers in three ethnically diverse rural regions to provide information about birth spacing and the safety of contraceptives. The contraceptive prevalence rate increased 24-27 percent in eight months in project areas.
Regular interaction with community leaders, mullahs (religious leaders), clinicians, the community health workers, and couples led to culturally acceptable innovations. For example, passages from the Koran, as well as messages that statistically contraception is safer than pregnancy, were used to promote a positive view of birth spacing. The success of the project led the Ministry of Public Health to adopt the ACU project model for scaling up contraceptive services nationwide,